What Shops Do When They're Not Working For You

During Down Time, Digital-Agency Workers Flex Creative Muscles by Making Just-for-Fun Tech

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Even when they're not doing client work, agencies can't keep creativity at bay. They need to keep their coders and technologists happy. Here are a few examples of cool things digital agencies have made in the name of fun rather than billable hours.


Agency: Firstborn

What it does: Transports photos from phone to server immediately to block deletion/editing

Creators: Phil Baudoin, principal developer, iOs; Zeh Fernando, principal developer Android; Emily Park, Site creative developer; Jongmin Kim, designer/senior developer.

Firstborn's annual pilgrimage to Peter Luger Steakhouse is notorious, and the shop's young brains found a way to document it all -- without edits -- via an app they pressured everyone into downloading before the big night.

Here's how it works: Once someone takes a photo, the photo disappears completely from their phone and reappears on an internal agency server. The next day, the photos "develop" in chronological order on a microsite for everybody's viewing pleasure. For the crew that had too much whiskey, it was like experiencing the night for the first time.


Agency: Isobar

What it does: Sends vibration to shirt pin of boss too busy to respond to your email

Creator: Dave Meeker, VP-emerging tech

It's a stain, it's a brooch, it's a ... CEO tracker! It's still a work in progress, but Isobar's Dave Meeker is prototyping a shirt-lapel accessory that he hopes will help him track down his busy boss. Mr. Meeker can touch his own shirt pin to send a vibration to his CEO's pin via a small device containing a Bluetooth chip and vibration motor. When Mr. Meeker's pin is touched, it connects to his phone, which transmits a signal over the internet to the CEO's phone, causing that pin to vibrate.


Agency: Jam3

What it does: Triggers lighting and sound to react to elements like weather and birthdays

Creator: Nick Poisson, developer; Media Ridha, producer; Greg Benedetto, producer; Matt Fisher, developer; Roger Dario, designer

Jam3's office was like a temperamental teenager last summer thanks to its annual Hackathon Day and the agency staffers responsible for the Chroma invention. The lighting technology reacts to a number of elements, including the weather, time of day, events and sound. For example, the lights inside the office automatically dimmed when it was bright out and brightened and played music when it was gloomy. For birthdays, the controller automatically triggered a "Let's eat cake it's birthday time" announcement and set off confetti lighting. On "Beer-O'clock Friday" the lights emitted a "get your drink on" pattern and played appropriate tunes.

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